Optimism prevails among Liberals
By Ophélie Spanneut | Thursday 28 June 2012
The ‘Liberal family’ - gathered, on 28 June, with its commissioners, ministers and MEPs – was optimistic a few hours ahead of the opening of the European Council and was simultaneously pointing a finger at Germany.
Graham Watson (ALDE, UK), MEP and the president of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party (ELDR), wants to believe that Angela Merkel will be flexible. He added that he does not believe what Merkel is thought to have said to the MEPs of her coalition, namely that in her lifetime Europe will never fully share debt responsibility. Watson would rather think that for the German chancellor “every country show a will to compromise and find a way forward”. The Liberals do not want to forget about growth and the social aspects. Watson considers that a balance should be sought between the two branches of liberalism: economic liberalism and social liberalism. Watson also sees the need for financial discipline, rather than austerity. Neelie Kroes, the commissioner for the Digital Agenda, recalled the high unemployment rates that affect young people in particular. With that in mind, she expected “pragmatic decisions” that respond citizens’ expectations, ie more certainty on jobs. Through her portfolio, she recalled the employment and growth potential that is carried in communication technologies.
The Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn, remained prosaic, and recalled how urgent it was to solve short-term issues, such as the very high interest rates some EU member states are paying. In the longer run, Rehn wants an ‘economic and monetary union 2.0’.